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For the past couple years, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Akiva Goldsman have been working on a truly ambitious adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel series The Dark Tower. Originally set as a possible project at Howard and Grazer’s frequent partner Universal, the project almost went to Warner Bros., and finally got a financing offer from Media Rights Capital.

Why all the difficulty? Well, this isn’t just one or two films; it’s envisioned as a three-film series linked by two short television series. That MRC offer was just for one film, but there was another mysterious offer that came up, which would have allowed for the original ambitious plan to take place. Now, after months of delays and public uncertainty about the project, Howard says The Dark Tower is still kicking. It’s just taking some time, and we’re not likely to hear much more about it until it is really gaining true momentum. Read More »

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If your favorite January Jones moment from any given season of Mad Men was the bit when Betty took aim at a neighbor’s pigeons, this trailer for Sweetwater will probably earn a grin. The film features Jones as a widowed woman who goes on a violent spree of revenge killings. That seems to be the deal, at least; honestly the trailer focuses more on the violence than the plot. It’s cartoonish stuff, especially with Jones playing the role with her characteristic straight face.

Reviews haven’t been kind as the film has done festival rounds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a few minutes’ entertainment out of the trailer. You’ll recognize Ed Harris even with his white hair extensions, but that preacher is played by a nigh-unrecognizable Jason Isaacs, just in case you didn’t manage to peg who was behind his weird tone. Read More »

The Lone Ranger

After months of trailers, TV spots, posters, and other marketing for The Lone Ranger, it’s easy to forget the movie almost never happened at all. Back in 2011, Disney slammed the brakes over concerns about its over-$250 million budget, and decided to move forward only after director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer trimmed it down to $215 million.

As it turns out, though, even that lower figure wasn’t enough to put the project in the black. Following a disastrous opening weekend, Disney stands to lose up to $150 million on The Lone Ranger. That’s not quite as rough as the $200 million lost by John Carter in 2011, but it’s pretty crappy. Hit the jump for more on what happened.

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The Lone Ranger

Why is a film in which a magic horse eats scorpions off Armie Hammer’s face so insufferably fractured and dull? Now that I’ve got your attention, consider the unfortunate fate of a film, one eager to subvert Western tradition, which becomes deeply lost in the wilderness between the arthouse and multiplex.

The Lone Ranger, masterminded by the Pirates of the Caribbean team of Gore Verbinski (director) and Jerry Bruckheimer (producer), throws out one weird idea after another — fanged rabbits factor in — almost as distractions for the fact that it wants to batter the very myth of the American west. In all cases, it does so without any significant unifying principle to weave the ideas into a movie of any compelling merit. More interesting to talk about than it is to watch in the moment, The Lone Ranger is still a dud in the end.

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Lone Ranger Gore Verbinski

When George Lucas and Steven Spielberg said Hollywood would implode because of a reliance on massive blockbusters, they were probably thinking of films like those made by Gore Verbinski. The director has done small films — even winning an Oscar for the animated Rango – but he’s best known for the three Pirates of the Caribbean movies and now The Lone Ranger, which opens July 3. His latest film was a massive undertaking that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make and even more to market.

When we sat down to talk to Verbinski, it seemed like the time to ask him about Lucas and Spielberg’s comments. He thinks there is a problem with Hollywood’s overspending, saying “we are on a crazy road to extinction.” Below, you can read more comments along with talk of genre conventions, the William Tell Overture, Hans Zimmer, and the struggle to get The Lone Ranger in front of cameras. Read More »

Lone Ranger Armie Hammer

For actor Armie Hammer, things are going pretty damn well right about now. He broke out in an Oscar-nominated film, worked with one of the best directors of all time, and is now the title character in a big budget Disney blockbuster. That last one is, of course, Gore Verbinski‘s The Lone Ranger, a brand-new take on the classic radio and TV character featuring Hammer as the Ranger and Johnny Depp as his sidekick, Tonto. This time around, however, Depp’s the focus and Hammer is just fine with that.

In our one on one interview, the actor talked about joining the multi-billion dollar team of Verbinski, Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the thought of playing this character for years to come, his next film (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) directed by Guy Ritchie, and what would have happened if he’d played Batman in George Miller’s Justice League. Read More »

Lone Ranger Banner

Disney’s The Lone Ranger is a summer film punctuated with a huge question mark. On the one hand, it’s from director Gore Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and star Johnny Depp, a proven triumvirate of Hollywood magic, and the trailers have certainly shown spectacle on the grandest scale. Then there’s the fact it’s based on a property many of today’s kids have never heard of and set in a genre that rarely resonates with younger, Disney centric audiences. It could either be a hit on the scale of Pirates of the Caribbean or a disappointment like John Carter. The jury is out.

The final trailer certainly helps the first argument, compacting insane effects and funny character beats into a compact 100 seconds. The Lone Ranger opens July 3; check it out below. Read More »

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Briefly: The movie-and-TV adaptation of Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower that Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman and Brian Grazer have been assembling has gone through a few revisions. At this point, it stands as a one-film deal financed by Media Rights Capital, with Russell Crowe starring as Roland the gunslinger. If that film does well, MRC could move forward on more movies.

But things have become a bit more complicated. Grazer now says that there’s a new financing offer on the table, which would allow the original plan of three movies and two limited TV series to be shot. Which deal will they take?

Grazer told Deadline that “a Silicon Valley investor” has come forward with a proposal to finance The Dark Tower as it was originally planned. If there are two funding possibilities out there, the situation probably also has factors we can’t guess. (For starters, MRC is well-established, while this new investor might not have much media experience.) So there’s no point to assuming that this will go one way or the other. Could MRC and the new investor work together? Regardless, for those who’ve hoped to see the bigger Dark Tower, there’s a glimmer of hope.

 

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